Posts Tagged ‘U.S. military’

Trump grounds Pelosi as feud over shutdown deepens

January 18, 2019

US President Donald Trump forced the cancellation Thursday of a trip to Afghanistan by his Democratic opponent Nancy Pelosi, and scrapped officials’ travel to the Davos forum as a government shutdown plunged Washington deeper into deadlock.

The mess in the US capital already verged on the surreal as Congress feuds with the White House over how to end an impasse now in its fourth week, with thousands of federal workers left unpaid.

But now it is also getting increasingly personal between the two main antagonists.

In a letter laced with sarcasm, Trump told House Speaker Pelosi: “I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over.”

Saul Loeb / Jim Watson / AFP | US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (L) and US President Donald Trump.

“I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is appropriate,” he wrote.

And in a move that appeared aimed at heading off Democratic criticism about non-essential administration travel during the shutdown, the White House announced the cancellation of a trip to the World Economic Forum by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and others “out of consideration for the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay.”

Pelosi and her delegation had planned a non-publicized trip to Afghanistan — an active war zone — and were due to travel aboard a US Air Force plane. Her office said Egypt was not on the itinerary.

According to a congressional aide, several lawmakers were already loaded onto buses preparing to leave the US Capitol Thursday when Trump pulled the plug.

Rubbing it in, Trump said that Pelosi could still book her own non-government flights.

“Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative,” he wrote.

The cancellation followed Pelosi’s suggestion that Trump postpone his January 29 State of the Union address to Congress, or do it from the White House instead.

Although she cited the shutdown’s effect on security, she appeared to want to deny the president one of his chief annual moments in the limelight.

The White House denied that the travel blockage was payback, but few bought the argument.

‘Sophomoric’

House Democrats who had been slated for the trip were left fuming, including freshman congresswoman Elaine Luria, a 20-year Navy veteran who said the purpose was to express appreciation to Americans in uniform and gain critical intelligence on the ground.

“Oversight is the responsibility of Congress, and it is inappropriate for the President to interfere with our constitutional duties,” Luria said in a statement.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who for weeks has served as a referee of sorts between Trump and Pelosi, accused the latter of “playing politics with the State of the Union.”

But he also hit out at Trump, saying “denying Speaker Pelosi military travel to visit our troops in Afghanistan, our allies in Egypt and NATO is also inappropriate.”

“One sophomoric response does not deserve another,” Graham said.

The government shutdown is due to Trump’s refusal to sign off on funding for a host of departments, in retaliation for the Democratic-led House’s refusal to approve his US-Mexico border wall project.

The shutdown is leaving an increasingly deep impact across the country, where for almost a month FBI agents, museum workers, US Coast Guard personnel and other officials have been either ordered to stay home or forced to work without pay.

Regular employees will get back pay eventually, while contractors will not.

The Democrats and the White House blame each other for the impasse, with neither side showing signs of backing down.

Trump critics quickly pointed out that he himself visited troops in Iraq during the shutdown.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said he believed cancelling a speaker of the House’s fact-finding mission to a war zone was a first for a US president.

“We believe this is completely inappropriate by the president. We’re not going to allow the President of the United States to tell the Congress it can’t fulfill its oversight responsibilities, it can’t ensure that our troops have what they need whether our government is open or closed,” he told reporters.

“That work must go on and I think it’s vitally important now, in particular that the president has announced withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan, that we understand the situation on the ground.”

(AFP)

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Trump Moves to Block Pelosi’s Overseas Trip Until After Shutdown

January 18, 2019

Pelosi, along with other lawmakers, was set to depart Thursday on a six-day trip

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said again that President Trump shouldn’t deliver the State of the Union address scheduled for Jan. 29 in the middle of a shutdown, citing security concerns. Getty Images
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WASHINGTON—President Trump postponed use of a military plane for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to travel to Afghanistan, a day after she urged the president to delay his State of the Union address, making personal the battle over the partial government shutdown that has lasted nearly four weeks.

The president issued a letter denying the aircraft as Mrs. Pelosi, along with a group of congressional committee chairmen and other lawmakers, were preparing to depart Thursday on the trip, according to a Democratic aide.

Several members of the delegation were already sitting in a bus outside the U.S. Capitol that would take them to Andrews Air Force Base when they received news of the postponement.

Even though the reopening of the government would require legislation passed in the House and Senate and signed by the president, the exchange of letters positioned the president and Mrs. Pelosi as the shutdown battle’s chief adversaries. Mr. Trump and Democrats are dug in over whether to pay for a border wall, which he has said is critical to national security and they have said is unnecessary.

Mr. Trump cited the shutdown as his reason for postponing the five-day trip, saying he wanted Mrs. Pelosi to stay in Washington to negotiate. Earlier Thursday, Mrs. Pelosi said she hadn’t been invited to the White House for negotiations since the president walked out of a meeting with congressional lawmakers last week.

Mrs. Pelosi, a day earlier, asked Mr. Trump to delay his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress—or submit it in writing—because unfunded security agencies weren’t equipped to protect the event during the shutdown.

The Republican president has often attacked his political adversaries in blunt language, and Mrs. Pelosi has at times thrown her own barbs his way. Both their letters sought to cast the other as being self-centered and out of touch.

“In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate,” Mr. Trump wrote. He added: “Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative.”

A day earlier, Mrs. Pelosi wrote: “I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date.”

The shutdown, the longest in history, has temporarily deprived 800,000 federal workers of paychecks, squeezed contractors dependent on government business and threatened to take the shine off an otherwise rosy economic picture.

This week’s tit-for-tat between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Pelosi suggests that any prospect of a rapprochement remains distant.

“It’s petty. It’s small. It’s vindictive,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.), Mrs. Pelosi’s No. 2. “It’s unbecoming of the president of the United States. But it is unfortunately a daily occurrence.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), an ally of Mr. Trump’s, wrote on Twitter: “One sophomoric response does not deserve another.”

“I’m just shocked she would leave the country,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said of Mrs. Pelosi. “Why would you do that when the government is shut down?”

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Mrs. Pelosi, said on Twitter that the speaker was traveling to Afghanistan to express appreciation to men and women in uniform there and get “critical national security & intelligence briefings from those on the front lines.”

He said the delegation also had planned to meet with North Atlantic Treaty Organization commanders, U.S. military leaders and key allies in Brussels en route.

The Defense Department isn’t required to provide the speaker military aircraft, but since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Pentagon has extended military travel as a courtesy. As commander-in-chief, Mr. Trump can opt to cancel military travel. The Pentagon is fully funded during the shutdown.

Mr. Trump and a Republican delegation have traveled to Iraq since the shutdown began.

Mr. Trump made the decision to postpone Mrs. Pelosi’s trip earlier Thursday, as soon as he heard she was going, a White House official said.

Mrs. Pelosi had submitted a request for Defense Department overseas travel that had been approved, a defense official said. U.S. officials’ travel to war zones isn’t broadcast ahead of time for security purposes.

The White House official, asked whether Mr. Trump had exposed Mrs. Pelosi to a security threat by announcing she was headed to Afghanistan, referred the question to Defense Department. The Pentagon referred questions to the White House.

Another White House official said the move wasn’t retaliation for Mrs. Pelosi’s efforts to postpone the State of the Union speech but rather because Mr. Trump wanted her to stay in Washington and negotiate.

Mr. Trump on Thursday began fundraising off the effort to postpone his address, sending supporters an email with the subject line: “I’m disinvited?”

White House officials said no decision has been made about when and where Mr. Trump will deliver the speech.

Some people close to the White House said Mr. Trump could deliver his speech in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon suggested Mr. Trump give his speech on the southern border and use the forum to declare a national emergency, in which the president would seek to divert funds from elsewhere in the government to build a border wall without congressional approval.

Mr. Trump has canceled his own planned travel to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum next week, but had planned to send a White House delegation including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in his place. The White House said later Thursday that the president had decided to cancel the delegation’s trip out of consideration for the employees sideline by the shutdown.

Advisers to Mr. Trump said they have grown more antsy about the shutdown in recent days as they see no sign that Mrs. Pelosi will budge.

“Every day the government isn’t open, [the president] is losing,” one person close to the president said. “He thought Pelosi was going to bend. Look, she’s not going to. She doesn’t have to.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-speaker-pelosi-house-to-vote-on-more-bills-next-week-to-end-shutdown-11547741569

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Pelosi staffer explains top-secret trip after Trump postpones it

January 18, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s chief of staff took to Twitter Thursday to explain her top-secret trip to a war zone in Afghanistan after President Trump postponed the trip by refusing to let her use a military plane.

“This weekend visit to Afghanistan did not include a stop in Egypt,” Drew Hammill wrote on Twitter, correcting the president’s claim that Pelosi and other lawmakers were planning to visit the Mideast country as well.

“The purpose of the trip was to express appreciation & thanks to our men & women in uniform for their service & dedication, & to obtain critical national security & intelligence briefings from those on the front lines,” Hammill wrote.

The canceled visit was known as a codel trip — which means details are kept under wraps until the plane lands safely.

“The CODEL to Afghanistan included a required stop in Brussels for pilot rest. In Brussels, the delegation was scheduled to meet with top NATO commanders, US military leaders and key allies–to affirm the United States’ ironclad commitment to the NATO alliance,” he continued in a series of posts.

He didn’t directly attack Trump — but insinuated that he was being hypocritical because he flew to Iraq during the shutdown.

“The President traveled to Iraq during the Trump Shutdown as did a Republican CODEL led by Rep. Zeldin,” Hammill added.

Trump, in a last-minute, tit-for-tat slap at Pelosi, grounded her top-secret flight to Afghanistan on the military plane — and suggested she fly commercial into the dangerous war zone instead.

“Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over,” Trump wrote in a snarky letter a day after Pelosi urged him to postpone his State of the Union because of the record-shattering shutdown.

Trump refused to provide the military transportation that is usually available to the House speaker or congressional delegations when they travel abroad on government business.

Pelosi was planning to leave later Thursday on the unannounced trip to Afghanistan, with the other stops in Belgium and Egypt as well.

Reps. Adam Schiff, chairman of the intelligence committee, and Eliot Engel, chairman of the foreign affairs committee, were expected to join her along with other members of Congress.

Meanwhile, a number of Trump administration officials were still planning to fly to Davos, Switzerland, for an economic forum next week.

https://nypost.com/2019/01/17/pelosi-staffer-explains-top-secret-trip-after-trump-postpones-it/

Erdogan ‘saddened’ by Trump threat to ‘devastate’ Turkish economy

January 15, 2019

Turkish president discussed possible safe zone for Kurds in phone call with president Trump

By Laura Pitel in Istanbul

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he discussed the idea of setting up a 20-mile safe zone in northern Syria during a “positive” phone call with Donald Trump on Tuesday. Mr Erdogan said that he had been “saddened” by Mr Trump’s threats, issued on Twitter on Sunday night, to “devastate Turkey economically” if it followed through on a threat to attack Kurdish forces in north east Syria.

But he said that the two leaders had reached an understanding “of historic importance” during a telephone conversation on Monday. “It was a positive phone call,” Mr Erdogan said, according to a report of his comments by BBC Turkish. “He once again confirmed his decision to withdraw from Syria.”

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, above, described his phone call regarding safe zones in Syria with US president, Donald Trump, as positive. (AFP)

The Turkish leader said that Mr Trump had raised the prospect of “a safe zone, to be created by us, along the border with Turkey” on the Syrian side. “We agreed that our teams’ discussions on all the subjects on the agenda will continue,” he said. In a tweet after their call, Mr Trump said that he had advised the Turkish president on “where we stand on all matters including our last two weeks of success in fighting the remnants of ISIS, and 20 mile safe zone.”

He added: “Also spoke about economic development between the US & Turkey — great potential to substantially expand!” Turkey has for years supported the idea of a safe zone in northern Syria. Mr Trump appears to have seized upon the idea as a way of containing the backlash after his abrupt announcement last month that US troops would withdraw. Kurdish forces played a central role in the US-led campaign against Isis jihadis.

The forces have warned that the American pullout is a betrayal that leaves them vulnerable to an attack by Turkey, which views Kurdish militias as domestic terrorists who represent a security threat. Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, told reporters in Riyadh this week that discussions on the creation of a buffer zone were ongoing.

“We want to make sure that the folks who fought with us to down [Isis] have security . . . and also that terrorists acting out of Syria aren’t able to attack Turkey,” he said.

“We want a secure border for all the parties.” Some military analysts believe that a negotiated agreement to create such a zone could be a realistic compromise, allowing Turkey to protect its border without triggering a full onslaught by the Turkish military that would risk angering the US.

Many questions remain, however, about who would monitor the area, what would happen if Kurdish armed groups refused to give up territory, and whether the plan would be accepted by the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who is his most important backer.

https://www.ft.com/content/2538ff40-18b9-11e9-b93e-f4351a53f1c3

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Huawei CEO Says Company Doesn’t Spy for China, Praises Trump in Charm Offensive

January 15, 2019

Image result for Xi Jinping and Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, photos

Photo: Xi Jinping and Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei

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Ren Zhengfei, founder of the Chinese tech giant, says no law forces companies in China to install ‘mandatory back doors’

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Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei in Shenzhen, China, on Tuesday.
Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei in Shenzhen, China, on Tuesday. PHOTO: THEODORE KAYE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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SHENZHEN, China—The founder and CEO of Huawei Technologies Co. said his company has never spied for the Chinese government—and never would—as he made a rare public appearance following the arrest of his daughter in Canada.

“No law requires any company in China to install mandatory back doors,” Ren Zhengfei said Tuesday. “I personally would never harm the interest of my customers and me and my company would not answer to such requests.”

Mr. Ren’s public comments at Huawei’s campus are his first in years and come as the telecom giant faces challenges on multiple fronts. His daughter, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, is fighting extradition to the U.S., where prosecutors accuse her of lying about the company’s business with Iran, Huawei has been blocked from several key markets and last week one of its employees was arrested in Poland and charged with espionage.

Mr. Ren didn’t say what specifically he would do to resist requests from the Chinese government. All companies doing business in China are required by law to hand over customer data to the government in cases that touch on national security. In China, national-security threats are broadly defined and can include speech critical of the Communist Party.

Mr. Ren said he missed his daughter, but was optimistic justice would prevail. Ms. Meng was arrested on Dec. 1 in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities. She denies the charges.

Huawei’s reclusive 74-year-old founder, a former army engineer, also praised President Trump as a “great president” and maintained Huawei is owned by its employees. The U.S. has raised concerns about Huawei’s ties to the Chinese state and that its telecom equipment could be used by Beijing to spy.

Mr. Ren’s public appearance comes days after the arrest of a Huawei employee in Poland who was charged with spying on the state on behalf of China. Huawei has fired the employee, Wang Weijing, and said his alleged actions have nothing to do with the company.

The events have rocked China, set back efforts toward a Beijing-Washington trade detente and dealt a direct blow to one of the country’s most successful global corporations. A Chinese court on Monday ordered the death penalty for a Canadian national convicted of drug smuggling, the latest example of how Canada has become caught up in the battle between the U.S. and China following the detention of Ms. Meng.

With 180,000 employees, Huawei is the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment, where it competes with Sweden’s Ericsson AB and Finland’s Nokia Corp. in making gear like routers, switches and base stations. It overtook Apple Inc. to become the world’s No. 2 global smartphone vendor, behind Samsung Electronics Co. , through the third quarter of last year.

Ren’s Rise

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei rose from an army engineer to lead one of China’s tech champions.

1944 — Mr. Ren is born in a rural village in China’s Guizhou Province.
1963 — He attends the Chongqing Institute of Civil Engineering and Architecture.
1974 — Mr. Ren joins the People’s Liberation Army’s engineering corps. He is sent to Liaoyang near the North Korean border to help build a synthetic fiber factory.
1982 — Mr. Ren attends the 12th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party as a reward for his contributions in the army.
1983 — He retires from the military after the engineering corps is disbanded and later joins a Shenzhen state-owned oil corporation.
1087 — Mr. Ren establishes Huawei in Shenzhen with 21,000 yuan (about $5,600 at the time).
2001 — Huawei establishes its U.S. subsidiary Futurewei in Plano, Texas.
Huawei discloses Mr. Ren’s daughter Meng Wanzhou had been appointed as CFO and to the board of directors.
2012 — The U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence releases a report that says Huawei is a national security threat and recommends U.S. companies not use its equipment.
Mr. Ren attends the World Economic Forum at Davos and rebuts charges Huawei is a national security threat.
2018 — AT&T backs out of a deal to sell Huawei smartphones in the U.S. The American campaign against Huawei escalates.
2018 — Ms. Meng is arrested in Canada on U.S. charges that she lied to banks about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.

Source: staff reports

In addition to hitting back against claims that Huawei is national-security threat, Mr. Ren reiterated that Huawei is purely owned by its employees, with its shareholders numbering nearly 97,000, and said no outside entity holds any stake in the company.

“There is no external institution that owns our shares—even 1 cent,” Mr. Ren said.

Speaking with reporters under a green and gold chandelier in an opulent meeting room on Huawei’s Shenzhen campus, Mr. Ren also praised President Trump’s tax-cutting agenda, but said a trade war between the U.S. and China would harm the world.

“In the information society, interdependence between one another is very significant,” he said. “That interdependence is what’s driving human progress forward more rapidly.”

Huawei has been dogged for years by allegations that is a security threat. It has been effectively locked out of the U.S. telecom market since a 2012 Congressional report raised concerns that its gear could be used by Beijing to spy on Americans, which Huawei has forcefully denied.

Spy chiefs from Australia to the U.K. have signaled concern that China could use Huawei for espionage, though no evidence of back doors or hacks related to the company has been produced. The U.S. has been pressing allies to shun Huawei gear in advance of an expected rollout of next-generation 5G networks, expected to allow faster connection speeds and a fuel a boom in connected devices, from autonomous vehicles to remote-controlled medical equipment.

Australia and New Zealand, key U.S. allies, have banned Huawei from their 5G network upgrades. Japan has excluded it from government purchasing while the U.K. and Canada have said they are reviewing their telecom supply chains.

Mr. Ren spoke with reporters under a green and gold chandelier in an opulent meeting room on Huawei’s Shenzhen campus.
Mr. Ren spoke with reporters under a green and gold chandelier in an opulent meeting room on Huawei’s Shenzhen campus. PHOTO: QILAI SHEN/BLOOMBERG NEWS
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Despite the barriers, Huawei said last month it expected to report that 2018 revenue rose 21% to $108.5 billion. Mr. Ren said the company has already signed 30 5G commercial contracts and shipped 25,000 5G base stations out of China.

“We’re not a public company. We don’t care so much about beautiful balance sheets,” said Mr. Ren, who alternated between reading from prepared remarks and casually holding forth on the company’s history and vision. “As long as we can keep our employees fed I believe there will be a future for Huawei.”

Much of the suspicion around Huawei has centered on Mr. Ren himself—in particular his years spent in the Chinese military before founding the telecom giant. In their 2012 report, Congressional investigators said Huawei refused to describe Mr. Ren’s full military background, and that they “struggled to get answers” about whether his military ties played any role in the company’s development.

Mr. Ren maintains a tight grip on the company, but avoids the spotlight—rarely giving interviews and delegating public appearances to deputies. One of his last major public addresses was in 2015 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he discussed his military days and Huawei’s origins and rebutted spying charges.

On Tuesday Mr. Ren returned to the subject of his military experience, explaining that as an engineer he helped establish a synthetic-textile factory in the northeastern city of Liaoyang. Mr. Ren left the military in 1983, four years before founding Huawei.

He also addressed another sticking point in his background: his attendance at a 1982 National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. He said he was invited as a reward for a widely publicized device he invented while in the military.

“Today, I still love my country,” Mr. Ren said. “I support the Communist Party of China, but I will never do anything to harm any other nation.”

Write to Dan Strumpf at daniel.strumpf@wsj.com and Josh Chin at josh.chin@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/huawei-ceo-hits-back-at-claims-company-spies-for-china-11547542616

Erdogan says discussed Turkey setting up safe zone in Syria with Trump

January 15, 2019

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he had discussed a safe zone which Turkey would set up in Syria, during a phone call with US President Donald Trump which he described as positive.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, above, described his phone call regarding safe zones in Syria with US president, Donald Trump, as positive. (AFP)

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Monday’s call came after Trump, who has announced a US troop withdrawal from northeast Syria, threatened Turkey with economic devastation if Turkish forces attacked a US-backed Kurdish militia there.

Reuters

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1435886/world

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Huawei founder breaks silence to dismiss claims of spying by company

January 15, 2019

Ren Zhengfei speaks out after arrest of his daughter in Canada Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save Save to myFT

By Yuan Yang in Shenzhen

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei hit back at claims that his company is used by the Chinese government for spying, using a rare meeting with the media following the arrest of his daughter from jail in Canada.

Image result for Xi Jinping and Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, photos

Photo: Xi Jinping and Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei

Mr Ren was speaking to journalists in Shenzhen on Tuesday after Meng Wanzhou, his daughter and Huawei’s chief financial officer, was arrested in Vancouver in December. Ms Meng faces extradition to the US on allegations that Huawei sold US-made equipment to Iran.

The Huawei Case Just Got (More) Political

Meng Wanzhou

The reclusive former Chinese army officer said Huawei had “never received any request from any government to provide improper information” and missed his daughter “very much”. “I still love my country, I support the Communist party, but I will never do anything to harm any country in the world,” he said, echoing earlier dismissals of allegations that Huawei was involved in espionage.

Image result for Huawei, 5G, photos

Ms Meng’s detention came against a backdrop of heightened international concern over Huawei’s alleged links to the Chinese government, and amid broader US angst over China’s rising technology capabilities. Several countries, including the UK, Australia and the US, have tightened oversight of the company and in some cases blocked its involvement in building the 5G next generation telecoms networks.

Last week, a Huawei executive was arrested in Poland on allegations of spying for China’s secret service. Huawei subsequently fired the employee. In an overture to Donald Trump, who has said he would be willing to intervene in Ms Meng’s case to secure a trade deal with China, Mr Ren described the US president as “great”, and noted that his tax cuts had been good for American industry.

“The message to the US I want to communicate is: collaboration and shared success. In our world of high tech, it’s increasingly impossible for any single company or country to sustain or to support the world’s needs,” Mr Ren said.

Recommended Huawei under fire In response to fears over the security of Huawei’s equipment

Mr Ren said “no law in China requires any company to install mandatory backdoors”. He added that the company has had “no serious security incident”. Mr Ren also downplayed the risk Huawei faced from being blocked from the rollout of 5G by some countries.

“It’s always been the case, you can’t work with everyone . . . we’ll shift our focus to better serve countries that welcome Huawei,” he said, adding that the company had 30 contracts globally to build 5G networks. Seeking to shed some light on Huawei’s opaque ownership, Mr Ren said he owned 1.14 per cent of the company’s shares.

Ms Meng’s arrest also sparked a sharp backlash from Beijing. Chinese officials have since detained at least two Canadian citizens and just this week a Canadian man convicted of drug smuggling was sentenced to death by a Chinese court, overturning a previous 15-year sentence. Mr Ren maintained that the alleged Chinese hacking of the African Union headquarters, revealed last year, had “nothing to do with Huawei”.

https://www.ft.com/content/d37edb56-1882-11e9-9e64-d150b3105d21

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Image result for CIA, seal, floor, pictures

But Huawei, which has been specially designated as a “national champion,” has an even more important assignment from the Communist Party than simply listening in on phone conversations, critics say.

China's J-20 stealth fighter is only the world’s second operational stealth fighter, giving Beijing a distinct edge in the Asian arms race. Picture: People's Daily

China’s J-20 stealth fighter Picture: People’s Daily

Trump, Erdogan discuss secure zone in Syria as Turkey vows to continue fight against Kurdish militia

January 15, 2019

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump on Monday discussed the establishment of a secure zone in northern Syria cleared of militia groups, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

Speaking by phone, the two emphasised the need to complete a roadmap regarding Syria’s border town of Manbij, as well to avoid giving any opportunity to elements seeking to block the planned withdrawal of US forces from Syria, it said.

Earlier, Trump threatened Turkey with economic devastation if it attacked a US-allied Kurdish militia in Syria, and proposed the creation of a safe zone.

In a tweet, Trump also warned the Kurdish forces not to “provoke Turkey.” (File/AFP)

But Turkey vowed to continue fighting the militia  which it views as a terrorist group.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter that there was “no difference” between the Daesh group and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia. “We will continue to fight against them all.”

“Mr @realDonaldTrump It is a fatal mistake to equate Syrian Kurds with the PKK, which is on the US terrorists list, and its Syria branch PYD/YPG,” Kalin also wrote on Twitter in response to Trump’s tweet.

Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria has left the United States’ Kurdish allies vulnerable to an attack from Turkey. Ankara views the Kurdish forces as terrorists aligned with insurgents inside Turkey.

In a tweet, Trump also warned the Kurdish forces not to “provoke Turkey.”

The US withdrawal has begun with shipments of military equipment, US defense officials said. But in coming weeks, the contingent of about 2,000 troops is expected to depart even as the White House says it will keep pressure on Daesh.

Once the troops are gone, the US will have ended three years of organizing, arming, advising and providing air cover for Syrian, Kurdish and Arab fighters in an open-ended campaign devised by the Obama administration to deal the militants, also known as Daesh, a lasting defeat.

“Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining Daesh territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions,” Trump tweeted. “Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds.”

Trump’s decision to leave Syria, which he initially said would be rapid but later slowed down, shocked US allies and angered the Kurds in Syria. It also prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and drew criticism in Congress. Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, called the decision a “betrayal of our Kurdish partners.”

Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1435111/middle-east

Pentagon Extends Deployments at Mexican Border to September

January 15, 2019

Military plans to move more engineers, fliers months after initial response to caravan immigrants

Image result for U.S. troops installed concertina wire, pictures

U.S. troops installed concertina wire at the San Ysidro, Calif., port of entry on the Mexican border last November, as they assisted Customs and Border Protection agents. PHOTO: MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
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U.S. troops will remain deployed along the border with Mexico until Sept. 30, the Pentagon announced Monday, as President Trump and Democratic lawmakers are deadlocked over building a border wall.

Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security for an extension of U.S. military support. There currently are approximately 2,350 active-duty troops on the border in three states—California, Texas and New Mexico. Another 2,200 National Guard troops also are stationed along the border.

Defense officials said there will be more engineers and aviators deployed to the border in the weeks ahead, although it is unclear how much the overall number of deployed troops will change. There were approximately 6,000 active-duty troops along the border at the peak of the buildup last year.

A Pentagon statement Monday said the Defense Department “is transitioning its support at the southwestern border from hardening ports of entry to mobile surveillance and detection, as well as concertina wire emplacement between ports of entry. DOD will continue to provide aviation support.”

The troops were hurriedly deployed last fall in response to a large caravan of mostly Central American migrants and asylum seekers traveling through Mexico toward the U.S. Then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis approved the deployment, which at the time was expected to be a short-term move, not a protracted use of troops at the border.

Until Mr. Shanahan’s approval of the extension, active-duty troops had been authorized to stay until Jan. 30.

Parts of the federal government have been shut down for more than three weeks as President Trump and Congress cannot agree over whether to spend more than $5 billion for a border wall. Mr. Trump also has said he is considering declaring a national emergency. In that event, U.S. military funds that are congressionally approved but not yet spent could be used to fund wall construction.

Last week, Mr. Trump visited the border in Texas, accompanied by Army Secretary Mark Esper, whose military branch would provide much of the funding used in the event of a national emergency, and Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, commanding general of the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that could be assigned the job of construction.

So far, the deployment of troops in support of Customs and Border Protection has cost $210 million, according to the latest Department of Defense estimates. Of that amount, $72 million was for the active-duty troops and the other $138 million was for National Guard costs.

The deployment has been questioned by Democrats and veterans advocates as unnecessary and a costly misuse of the expertise of military personnel. Critics such as former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D., Texas) have said Mr. Trump was seeking to stoke fears of immigrants through such measures as the use of troops and pushing for a border wall.

Write to Nancy A. Youssef at nancy.youssef@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/pentagon-extends-deployments-at-mexican-border-to-september-11547528929

Women Don’t Belong in Combat Units

January 14, 2019

The military is watering down fitness standards because most female recruits can’t meet them.

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Female Marine recruits in boot camp in Parris Island, S.C., Feb. 27, 2013. PHOTO: SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES
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The Obama-era policy of integrating women into ground combat units is a misguided social experiment that threatens military readiness and wastes resources in the service of a political agenda. The next defense secretary should end it.

In September 2015 the Marine Corps released a study comparing the performance of gender-integrated and male-only infantry units in simulated combat. The all-male teams greatly outperformed the integrated teams, whether on shooting, surmounting obstacles or evacuating casualties. Female Marines were injured at more than six times the rate of men during preliminary training—unsurprising, since men’s higher testosterone levels produce stronger bones and muscles. Even the fittest women (which the study participants were) must work at maximal physical capacity when carrying a 100-pound pack or repeatedly loading heavy shells into a cannon.

Ignoring the Marine study, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter opened all combat roles to women in December 2015. Rather than requiring new female combat recruits to meet the same physical standards as men, the military began crafting “gender neutral” standards in the hope that more women would qualify. Previously, women had been admitted to noncombat specialties under lower strength and endurance requirements.

Only two women have passed the Marine Corps’s fabled infantry-officer training course out of the three dozen who have tried. Most wash out in the combat endurance test, administered on day one. Participants hike miles while carrying combat loads of 80 pounds or more, climb 20-foot ropes multiple times, and scale an 8-foot barrier. The purpose of the test is to ensure that officers can hump their own equipment and still arrive at a battleground mentally and physically capable of leading troops.

Most female aspirants couldn’t pass the test, so the Marines changed it from a pass/fail requirement to an unscored exercise with no bearing on the candidate’s ultimate evaluation. The weapons-company hike during the IOC is now “gender neutral,” meaning that officers can hand their pack to a buddy if they get tired, rather than carrying it for the course’s full 10 miles.

Lowering these physical requirements risks reducing the American military’s lethality. A more serious effect of sex integration has become taboo to mention: the inevitable introduction of eros into combat units. Putting young, hormonally charged men and women into stressful close quarters for extended periods guarantees sexual liaisons, rivalries and breakups, all of which undermine the bonding essential to a unified fighting force.

A Marine commander who served in Afghanistan described to me how the arrival of an all-female team tasked with reaching out to local women affected discipline on his forward operating base. Until that point, rigorous discipline had been the norm. But when four women—three service members and a translator—arrived, the post’s atmosphere changed overnight from a “stern, businesslike place to that of an eighth-grade dance.” The officer walked into a common room one day to find the women clustered in the center. They were surrounded by eager male Marines, one of whom was doing a handstand.

Another Marine officer, who was stationed on a Navy ship after 9/11, told me that a female officer had regular trysts with an enlisted sailor in the engine room. Marine Cpl. Remedios Cruz, one of the first women to join the infantry, was discharged late last year after admitting to a sexual relationship with a male subordinate. Army Sgt. First Class Chase Usher was relieved of his leadership position for a consensual relationship with a female soldier that began almost immediately after she arrived at his newly gender-integrated unit in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Long before infantry integration became a feminist imperative, evidence was clear that a coed military was a sexually active one. In 1988 then-Navy Secretary Jim Webb reported that of the unmarried enlisted Navy and Air Force women stationed in Iceland, half were pregnant.

President Trump’s first defense secretary, Jim Mattis, had seemed a good candidate for reversing the integration of women in combat units. A former Marine commandant, Mr. Mattis had previously addressed the incompatibility of eros and military discipline. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand challenged him about these politically incorrect views during his confirmation hearings, but he left enough wiggle room to preserve his options.

Unfortunately, Mr. Trump chose to ban transgender people from serving in the military rather than tackling gender integration. Mr. Trump cited the cost to taxpayers of sex-reassignment surgery for soldiers, but those costs are minute compared with the future medical bills for women’s combat-battered bodies. And women pose a far greater challenge to combat-unit cohesion than do transgender troops, because of their numbers and the nature of sexual attraction.

The argument for putting women into combat roles has always been nonmilitary: Combat experience qualifies soldiers for high-ranking Pentagon jobs. But war isn’t about promoting equality. Its objective is to break the enemy’s will through precise lethal engagement, with the lowest possible loss of American life. The claim that female combat soldiers will perform as lethally as men over an extended deployment entails a denial of biological reality as great as the one underlying the transgender crusade.

Female engineers and others did return fire when attacked in Iraq and Afghanistan. But performing well in incident-related combat is a far cry from serving in a dedicated ground-combat unit, with its months of punishing physical demands.

The incoming Pentagon chief can expect an aggressive grilling on gender integration from the Senate Armed Services Committee. He should promise to resolve the claim that, when it comes to combat, there are no significant physical differences between men and women. He could do it by pitting an all-female infantry unit against an all-male unit and seeing how they measure up.

Ms. Mac Donald is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of “The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/women-dont-belong-in-combat-units-11547411638